Clubhouse explained: will the hype last?

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Clubhouse is the latest, ~exclusive~ social media that had the world buzzing about it during the first months of 2021. Launched in 2020, the drop-in audio app Clubhouse ironically enough couldn’t have picked a better time than in the midst of a worldwide pandemic to get started; a lot of people have been isolated, bored, longing for something to happen, and a new, exciting social media that lets you listen in on and have conversations with people from all over the world visibly hit just right.

Just like Facebook in its early days, Clubhouse is still invite-only and has since its launch only been compatible with iOS, up until last month, May 2021, when they finally expanded to Android. Starting out at 1,500 users in May 2020, the social network climbed to 600,000 users in December 2020, and skyrocketed to a whopping 10,000,000 active users in February 2021.

What made Clubhouse unique is that, unlike any other social media platform before, there are no posts, no photos (except for profile pictures) and no videos. The homepage simply consists of a continuously updated and endless feed of live rooms where users can listen in and talk with one another. Once a room is over, it disappears, similar to Snapchat’s original USP.

Many celebrities have made appearances on the app, including Elon Musk who has been largely credited with the app’s popularity. Other big shots include Oprah, Drake, Kevin Hart, Ashton Kutcher, Wiz Khalifa, Mark Zuckerberg, Jared Leto and the US cast of Shark Tank.

While the lion’s share of us were either stuck in quarantine or self-isolation, or just generally limiting our social lives, Clubhouse’s innovative concept brought people a little closer together and lit a spark of excitement in many. By allowing virtually any topic – from gardening to entrepreneurship to celebrity gossip to ecommerce strategies to wine tips and on and on – to be discussed at only a click away, people suddenly had access to both listen in on and join all sorts of interesting conversations with people from all over the world. Needless to say, there was an obvious craze starting to happen around live audio.

However, will the hype last? Or has Clubhouse already reached its peak?
Besides general fatigue from users, the main threat to Clubhouse’s reigning hype is that the app doesn’t have a monopoly on the market anymore. Copycats are popping up left and right, and many big players are planning to, or have already launched their own versions, including Facebook, Twitter, Discord, Spotify, Slack and Reddit.

We do know that Clubhouse is evolving to try to stay on top though, since they recently prematurely released a new messaging feature on the platform by accident, which was then quickly removed.

Looking at how many competitors Clubhouse has now, many argue that while specifically Clubhouse’s future is uncertain, the live audio feature is here to stay. Meanwhile, others anticipate the audio trend and its apps to perish in line with the world opening up again post Covid-19.

As far as the marketing industry goes, many social media managers were quick to hop on the platform, create accounts and adapt their strategy to include Clubhouse. While the high interest from people and the opportunity to grow quickly is, and was, intriguing to many marketing professionals, it remains a bit unclear what commercial opportunities actually exist. There has been great success for some and less for others, and while there are many key takeaways that can be made and reproduced, there isn’t exactly a clear strategy for how to use Clubhouse or any of its new competitors, for business, yet. The concept itself of live audio chats is, in fact, still quite new, and it’s hard to tell what will come of this whole new category of social media.

What do you think: is live audio the future or a mere fad?

More information:
Bianca Rior, Digital Marketing Specialist